‘Optimal combinations’: Amorepacific’s Osulloc on how blended teas are the way forward for the industry

By Pearly Neo

- Last updated on GMT

Osulloc believes that the future of the tea category lies in blended teas that can bring out ‘optimal combinations’ of scent and flavour. ©Osulloc
Osulloc believes that the future of the tea category lies in blended teas that can bring out ‘optimal combinations’ of scent and flavour. ©Osulloc

Related tags Amorepacific Tea

South Korean tea brand Osulloc believes that the future of the tea category lies in blended teas that can bring out ‘optimal combinations’ of scent and flavour as opposed to traditional single-variety teas.

Osulloc is the specialty tea arm of South Korean multinational beauty and cosmetics corporation Amorepacific, and its teas have become particularly popular amongst South East Asian tourists to South Korea over the past two to three years.

In South Korea, Osulloc has over 40 years of history and is present in just about all major retail chains locally and also operates exclusive tea salons, tea houses and even a tea museum in the country.

“Osulloc has strived to operate very differently from other tea brands based on our unique know-how in tea blending, where we use not just one method but a variety of methods to process the leaves after they have been harvested from our organically grown fields in Jeju Island,”​ Osulloc Product Development Manager Chanhwi Kim told FoodNavigator-Asia​.

“These methods include - but are not limited to - steaming, pan-firing, and fermentation, and [our] time-honoured learning and in-depth understanding of these different methods has allowed us to [develop expertise in] crafting a balance in the blends.

“We rarely rely on single-variety teas and are constantly in pursuit of an ‘optimal combination’ of aromas and flavours that will engage the senses and deliver a superior tea experience.”

Kim added that this concept of blending is by no means unique to tea, but is also at the heart of what gives the edge to the makers of various types of beverages.

“This similar principle that holds true for other beverages such as coffee, wine, and scotch whiskey,”​ he added.

“Based on this, we are constantly developing blended tea products that utilise unique Korean flavours – some of our most popular include Sejak which is our representative signature tea blended in an optimum ratio of 'steamed green tea' and 'pan-fired tea'; and Moon Walk Tea which has a subtly sweet aroma of Korean pear, reminiscent of moonlight [and] the deep scent of post-fermented tea.

“At the same time, we are striving to appeal to Millennials and Generation Z consumers by expanding our variety of flavours - This includes not only popular flavours (Citrus, Fruity, Floral) but also innovative new flavours (Plants, Spicy, Nutty) in our upcoming products.”

The firm also has plans to further capitalise on Jeju’s reputation as a cultural and heritage-rich location, looking to develop aged teas via fermentation to deliver more unique products.

“We are nearing the completion of the construction of a new fermentation facility at our Tea Museum on Jeju Island - this this new brand asset will be used to upscale our tea offerings, presenting aged teas that capture the value of time and the essence of Jeju's nature,”​ Kim said.

“Recent consumer trends in the Korean tea market [include] wellness/relaxation, health benefits, and gourmet experiences [and there are more] expectations for health benefits from tea, such as cold prevention, fatigue recovery, and antioxidant effects.

“It is also anticipated that trends prevalent in the global market will also be applied to the Korean market – Amongst this, centred on the MZ generation who value personal preferences, the growth of health-oriented beauty teas and convenient ready-to-drink (RTD) categories is expected to rise.”

Export potential

Osulloc mostly sells its tea in the traditional packaged teabags format outside of South Korea, but locally it also has a wide variety of tea-related products, including cookies, cakes, ice cream, a green tea milk spread and even tea-cocktails.

“South Korea is our main base, and we have also been selling on Amazon in the US where we have seen remarkable growth,”​ OSULLOC Marketing Manager Sohyun Cho told us.

“Our current plans for overseas expansion are to leverage on this growth and further extend our venture in the US market - Last season, OSULLOC was introduced in wellness and lifestyle company GOOP, and we sold out our exclusive launch of 'The Secret Tea Story', a curated tea set of nine varietals.

“We are also selling online in a few other markets in the Asia Pacific region, and have some presence via FairPrice in Singapore.”

Osulloc works with FairPrice via companies specialising in Korean goods, and currently sells its Honey Pear Tea, Jeju Camellia Flower Tea, Jeju Canola Flower and Honey Tea, Sweet Berry Rooibos Tea, Jeju Earl Grey Tea and Green Tea Milk Spread via the FairPrice platform.

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